Plant type: Herbaceous perennial or subshrub, depending on the species
Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 to 11 for many; can be grown as annuals anywhere
Tender sages can range in size from knee-high to well over eye level. Some species flower from spring through fall, while others delay their bloom to the very end of the growing season—their spectacular display makes them worth the wait! The bushy clumps produce green, spoon-shaped, lance-shaped, or triangular leaves that are often aromatic.
How to use it: Planted singly or in groups, compact sage species make superb, long-blooming additions to beds, borders, and container plantings. They’re great partners for lavenders (Lavandula spp.), yarrows (Achillea spp.), and other drought-tolerant plants. Taller sages can also grow well in large containers, but they really need the space of a bed or border to show off to best advantage. Even where they’re not winter-hardy, sages make great annual color accents. Enjoy them in the cutting garden, as well.
Culture: Tender sages typically thrive in average, well-drained soil with full sun to light shade; afternoon shade is often ideal in hot climates. Pinch off faded flowers to promote rebloom. Where the plants aren’t hardy, bring potted specimens indoors before frost, or take cuttings in late summer and keep under lights or on a sunny windowsill for the winter. Wait until all danger of frost has passed to set plants outdoors in spring.
Special notes: Sages are practically guaranteed to bring hummingbirds to your garden, and they’re popular with bees and butterflies too! Many are also drought-tolerant.
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